When the U.S. flag becomes worn or faded, it is important to take it down and properly dispose of it. The U.S. flag code states that the when the flag “is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way. There are several ways to respectfully dispose of the American flag without showing disgrace. The most common method is burning the torn or tattered flag in a special ceremony. This can be done privately or in a public ceremony. However, because flags are made from nylon, which releases hazardous gases when it is burned, you may want to investigate other ways of disposing of an old flag. With a little forethought, you can properly and respectfully retire and dispose of your U.S. flags

How do you know your flag should be retired?

Sometimes your flag will only need to be cleaned to restore its original appearance. Regular cleaning of your flag can extend its life considerably. Flags can be machine-washed with a mild detergent in cold water. Flags should be hung to dry or laid flat. Do not fold the flag if it is damp.

If it is possible, mend a tattered flag at early signs of wear. The edge furthest from the staff, known as the "fly" end is usually the first part of the flag to show wear. The fly end may start to unravel due to weather conditions. It is really up to you to decide when your flag is ready to be retired. If the flag is unable to be repaired or is too tattered then the flag should be retired. There are many local organizations that will take your flag for proper retirement.

Who is authorized to retire a U.S. Flag?

Anyone. The Flag code does not authorize any particular organization with the duty of retiring unfit flags. Any one person or group can do it. However, flags should be retired in private at a non-public location and the ceremony should be a solemn, dignified event. There is no one official ceremony required or recommended. An alternate option is to separate the blue star field from the stripes and then to separate the stripes from each other. Once this is done the material is no longer a flag and the pieces may be respectfully interred as art of the ceremony.

If your Flag is in need to be retired. Please take them to one of these Locations

Jet Potter Scout Service Center

3414 Hillsboro Pike * Nashville, TN 37215 * (P) 615-383-9724(F) 615-297-9916